PICTURES: Paris Burns as May Day Protests Turn to Riots

Paris witnessed burning cars, smashed shops and banks, and police attacked by masked and hooded left-extremist activists Tuesday as the May Day protests descended into bitter violence.

The marches this year remember the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Paris riots, from which the ’68ers sobriquet for post war-born children politically radicalised to the left in the 1960s arises. Britain’s Times reports the violence this week is the worst on a May Day protest since 1968 itself.

Riot police in full gear deployed water cannon and tear gas to control the left-actions on the streets of Paris Tuesday but were unable to prevent major damage to property, including business premises and many vehicles destroyed.

Appearing on the sidelines of the main protest, approximately 1,200 black-clad Black Bloc hard-left activists gathered and fought police.

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 01: Police in action as thousands of people take to the streets during the May Day demonstrations on May 1, 2018 in Paris, France. This month celebrates the 50th anniversary of May 68 when France seen millions of students and striking workers, come onto the streets in demonstrations that changed the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 01: A car is burning as thousands of people take to the streets during the May Day demonstrations on May 1, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The Reuters newswire service reports the remarks of police union official David Le Bars, who said the security service decided to let protesters smash buildings and burn cars rather than try to stop them, which could cause casualties on both sides. “They came to hit capitalist symbols and burn cops. When you come with Molotov cocktails, it’s to burn cops”, he said.

Despite the somewhat hands-off attitude, 109 remain in custody following the riots on Wednesday morning.

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 01: Vehicles burn as thousands of people take to the streets during the May Day demonstrations on May 1, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A protestor throws a missile towards unseen police officials as teargas clouds rise during a demonstration on the sidelines of a march for the annual May Day workers’ rally in Paris on May 1, 2018. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)

French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux criticised the black-bloc protestors for having covered their faces. He said: “When you have sincere convictions, you demonstrate with your face unmasked… Those who wear hoods are the enemies of democracy.”

A McDonalds fast food restaurant, Mercedes-Benz dealership, and a number of cars were vandalised or destroyed.

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 01: Protesters wear masks and light fire as thousands of people take to the streets during the May Day demonstrations on May 1, 2018 in Paris, France. This month celebrates the 50th anniversary of May 68 when France seen millions of students and striking workers, come onto the streets in demonstrations that changed the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Protestors destroy shop windows during a demonstration on the sidelines of a march for the annual May Day workers’ rally in Paris on May 1, 2018. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

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PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 01: Protesters wear masks as thousands of people take to the streets during the May Day demonstrations on May 1, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 01: Vehicles are burning as thousands of people take to the streets during the May Day demonstrations on May 1, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 01: Police use water cannons as thousands of people take to the streets during the May Day demonstrations on May 1, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Vehicles burn after being set alight during a demonstration on the sidelines of a march for the annual May Day workers’ rally in Paris on May 1, 2018. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

Vehicles burn after being set alight during a demonstration on the sidelines of a march for the annual May Day workers’ rally in Paris on May 1, 2018. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

TOPSHOT – French Anti-riot police officers stand guard next to a fire during a demonstration on the side lines of the march for the annual May Day workers’ rally, in Paris, on May 1, 2018. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

Masked protestors, loot a MacDonald’s fast food outlet during a demonstration on the side lines of the march for the annual May Day workers’ rally, in Paris, on May 1, 2018. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP

Protestors dressed in black and with the face covered hold smoke bombs and a banner reading “The Black bloc colours our lives” and depicting the Anarchist symbol as they take part in a march for the annual May Day workers’ rally, in Paris, on May 1, 2018. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

Protestors dressed in black and with the face covered hold smoke bombs as they take part in a march for the annual May Day workers’ rally, in Paris, on May 1, 2018. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

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